LSU-Alabama an old-fashioned showdown

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“LSU is more traditional now,” he said. “They have big backs and they’re going to turn and hand the ball to them and that’s going to play right into Alabama’s hands.

“So I think they’re going to have to come up with a trick play or two.”

_ Playmakers on defense. An all-star defender making big tackles, forcing a timely turnover or just laying a resounding hit on some unsuspecting player. For Alabama, the likely candidates include linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower, and All-America safety Mark Barron. For LSU, it might be ball-stripping Tyrann Mathieu, fellow cornerback Morris Claiborne or pass rushers Barkevious Mingo or Sam Montgomery.

_ Coaching eruptions. It might come from the ultra-intense, scowling Saban or Miles with his penchant for making seemingly odd gambles pay off.

With both teams coming off open dates, the hype around the game has been frenzied. Alabama’s Williams has heard plenty from friends and family.

“Of course, 1 vs. 2, game of the century and all that type of stuff,” he said. “You’ve got to put out the mental clutter.”

Which isn’t to say Williams isn’t embracing the hype, even while some teammates downplayed it with that “just another game” spiel.

“This is what you come to Alabama for,” the tight end said. “Great opportunity for some players. I know the atmosphere will be crazy. This is what you want to play in. It will be one for the ages.”

It puts the spotlight on a community that was devastated by a deadly tornado in April but has received a regular Saturday pick-me-up from the Tide this fall.

“Every time we have a major event here, I think it makes people feel more and more normal about the way things are going,” Saban said.

This certainly qualifies as major.

If the game lives up to its billing and ends up close, the loser’s national championship aspirations might not be totally diminished. The loser could have an outside shot at a January rematch in New Orleans that really is for the title.

Miles isn’t thinking about that though, he’s content for now to relish a brisk fall Saturday night when temperatures are expected to dip into the 40s. He’s practically poetic about it.

“How wonderful it is in college football that you have two quality teams that represent two great institutions that will take their best effort to the field to decide something that is difficult, clean and pure as a contest,” Miles said. “How wonderful it is for the region to be able to look and enjoy the time of celebration of hard work and team values.

“The school wins, the team wins and the state wins. It is a beautiful time. “

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